Any DLC runs the risk of going stale or tasteless. Change too little and players will soon be bored or have little reason to return to the game, but change too much and fans can feel alienated as their favourite elements are spoiled. It’s an issue that Overcooked 2’s Campfire Cook Off overcomes thanks to the addition of a backpack. This initially unadventurous appearing addition actually provides a refreshing change to the Overcooked formula that is truly something to be relished. In fact, whoever came up with this chaotic and hilarious gameplay mechanic is without doubt the equivalent of a culinary Michelin stars totting genius.
It’s a simple enough device but one that shakes up the well-established rhythm of this culinary puzzler. Players can pick up a backpack that is then attached to their back until the level is complete. Each pack can deposit a specific ingredient, effectively replacing the ingredient boxes. Sounds simple enough, right? Not quite. Things are made significantly more complicated by the fact that the wearer of the pack cannot remove items themselves, meaning their partner must attempt to remove the ingredients for them. All of this whilst players charge around and engage in the barely controlled madness that is your average Overcooked 2 level.
This mechanic is brilliant because it works on several levels. It manages to be both in keeping with the established gameplay of Overcooked 2, whilst also upending everything that the experienced chef’s muscle memory has learnt. Well-honed tactics no longer serve the expected results when you have to chase your ingredients down from a wayward player on the other side of the level.
Elsewhere Campfire Cook Off is a pretty traditional recipe. You’ll get another twelve levels and four new characters, all themed around a campsite aesthetic. Visuals are chunkily cartoonish and charming, exactly as you’d expect. Fires crackle, fireflies fizzle and Keven crops up to stare at the players’ endeavours with the sort of silent Machiavellian malevolence that only a cute dog can.
New recipes do little to shake up the established formula, S’mores and cooked breakfasts are pretty much the same to make as any other dish, rather it’s the inclusion of using camp fires to cook with that keeps things fresh. Fires require a constant quota of chopped wood to keep them hot – leave them unattended for too long and they’ll be so cold you won’t be able to cook anything but sushi. It’s another plate to keep spinning, another mechanism to try to fold into your cooking routine. It’s a measure of Ghost Town Games’ skill as a developer that the challenge they set stays just on the side of manageable. Ultimately, despite the initial difficulty, every seemingly insurmountable cooking challenge can be overcome with thought and practice.
As you may have gathered this DLC is not an easy proposition, it will push even the most grizzled of Overcooked veterans to new limits of skill. My partner and I nabbed the platinum for the main game and even we bounced off the multi-level monstrosity that is the final test on several occasions. If you’re after an extra dose of difficulty then Campfire Cook Off will certainly satisfy your hunger.
Sadly there are a few glitches that will need to be remedied sooner rather than later. For no explicable reason a player occasionally leaves only an empty plate on a camp fire, when you simply intended to dish up the food. There’s also a frustrating dead zone when trying to cross the raft and river on one of the level – it looks like you should be able to cross at this point, but only a brief watery death and a respawn await if you do. Sure, these are minor issues in the grand scheme of things, but in a puzzle game this fast and precise they prove enough to wreck your high score and release a tirade of expletives that would make Gordon Ramsey proud.
Overall though, Campfire Cook Off scratched my Overcooked itch once more, the one that has been left unattended and irritating for far too long. The only issue is that this blissful salve is far too brief, this DLC can be consumed in a gluttonous frenzy over a few delicious hours. Ho-hum, guess the next few months are going to be lean and starving until I’m served another delicious DLC helping of this almost perfect puzzler.